Color coding stickers - tips and ideas for effective planning
Planning & Organization

How To Use Color Coding Stickers To Level Up Your Planning Routine

Color coding can be an amazingly effective way to organize and plan out your days and this time I want to show you how you can use color coding stickers to your advantage.

(if you, by chance, first need to get a bit more familiar with color coding, I’ve got a great two-part guide about it that you can take a look – here’s the link to part 1 and part 2)

Why should you use color coding stickers?

First off, why should you even use color coding stickers?

Well, for one, stickers are just pure fun! I mean, who doesn’t like to peel off and place a sticker inside a planner? (come on, it can’t be only me?!) If you know what I’m talking about, I bet this reason alone is quite enough for you to say “yes” to this option. 😉

However, if you’re not persuaded yet and want more logical reasons why you should start using color coding stickers when planning out your stuff – then, here they are. 

If you often find yourself carrying your planner or bullet journal with you, then having color coding stickers by your side instead of pencils or markers is a much better option. (in case you’re new to the concept of bullet journaling, take a look at my ultimate bullet journal guide for beginners)

The reason is (probably) quite obvious – stickers use less space without compromising effectiveness. This alone is a massive advantage of using color coding stickers. 

On top of this, you have one thing less to think about when getting out of your home. So instead of having an additional pen case that you have to remember to take with you, your color coding stickers can already be inside a pocket of your planner or bullet journal, ready to follow you wherever you go.

Next, I truly believe if you find the right color coding stickers and set them up the way they suit you, you’ll be more efficient when planning out your days and weeks and they’ll help you speed up your planning routine. (more on that to come)

An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing. Dale Carnegie Inspirational Quote.

And another thing worth mentioning – color coding stickers can be a quick and simple way to add a touch of aesthetic elements into your bullet journal or planner. 

If you’re short on time or not so artistic and use your planner or bujo as a place to organize your days and thoughts (which is the main point of these tools, anyway), you very well know that the pages can look… well, the same, maybe even cluttered, and overall somehow uninspiring. 

Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong in it, the primary purpose of any planner is to help you be more productive and organized. But it’s also true we all like to see a pretty thing (and this goes for anything in life) every now and then. And color coding stickers can add a bit of that charm and fun to your planner or bullet journal. (you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about later on)

How you can use color coding stickers – tips & ideas

This is probably the most interesting part of this post – how you can use color coding stickers in your planner or bullet journal, plus get the tips and ideas for more effective planning. 😉

Now, I must say that during my planning journey, at some points in time, I tried out different ways to color code and had different types of stickers that I used, sometimes even at the same time. 

In the beginning, I used a few different sets because some had one type of stickers that I wanted, and the other some other useful sticker feature. You could say it was a phase of testing and experimenting where I tried to discover what works the best for me. When I figured that out, I simply decided to make my own set of printable stickers to use from that moment on. 

So, the tips I’m about to share with you will be focused on using this set of stickers. You can always find the one that matches your needs, and if this set of printable color coding stickers seem like a good fit for you too, you can get it by visiting this link or clicking on the image below. 

Printable color coding stickers instant download

Now, let’s dive right in!

Tips to use color coding stickers with circles, squares, and rectangles – full color version

The simplest and the most obvious way of using color coding stickers in your planner or a bullet journal is to place them next to the task they belong to. This way you’ll have a simple mark next to the specific task and you can quickly get a visual overview of what category your task belongs to. 

As a bonus, when using this easy approach, you can get a pretty nice overview of the way you’re spending your days and uncover whether you’re maintaining a good overall life balance or not. 

(if you’re interested more about this subject, consider making a level 10 life page in your planner and start improving your life from there)

There are also other ways how you can use these full color stickers to organize yourself – and your planner.

You can place them at the edge of the page so you can more easily find a page that keeps some information about the specific color coding category. You can stick it so it peeks out a little – like a tab, or place it so its color can be seen only when looking from the side of a planner – like the colored thickness of a page. 

This way of using color coding stickers is super useful if you have multiple collection pages of the same topic in your bullet journal that are spaced out and not placed one after another. It’s a lot easier to find these kinds of pages this way than to go to your key page first, look for the page numbers, and then search for them. (and almost a must-use way for faster orientation if your bullet journal doesn’t have numbered pages)

You can also use the same approach if you’d like to color code specific months and track their beginning quicker.

Color coding circle stickers and a planner.

Tips to use color coding stickers with circles, squares, and rectangles – outline version

This type of color coding stickers can really speed up your planning routine, and you’ll soon see what I mean by it.

Since they’re all blank, you can truly customize them according to your needs and have stickers the exact way you want them to be. Whatever is the task, event, or action that you want to name and color code, you can simply write it down on a sticker. Once you need to add it to your planner, you just stick an appropriate sticker and that’s it! (this way you might even avoid using a pen altogether – I know, it sounds crazy and ridiculous, but it is an option!)

If you want to use this approach as a way to speed up your planning routine, then I recommend that your color coding tasks be the same as the items you regularly plan out and write down in your planner.

(so, for example – exercise, grocery shopping, client work, administrative work, social media, classes, casual outings, meal preps… whatever you frequently plan out and write in your bullet journal or planner)

Since you have all the freedom to do anything you want with these kinds of stickers, you can also place the name of the person that’s involved in some task to a specific sticker. For example, you can place a sticker with the name of your child next to the time when you need to pick him/her up from a sports activity, or when it’s his/her time to do some (bigger) choir or any other task your child has but you’re in some way also involved in. Or maybe use the name of your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, colleague… you get the idea.

Now, because the color coding stickers with the name of your choice are super hard to find (try it for yourself if you don’t believe me!), I made my rectangle blank stickers editable so you can put a description, word, name, whatever! into them prior to printing. This way you can get an unlimited amount of stickers that perfectly match your needs – without even spending the time to physically write things on them! 😉

Printable color coding stickers bundle.

Additional ideas for using circle, rectangle, and square shaped color coding stickers

Since this printable color coding set has stickers with three different shapes, no matter how you’d like to use them in your planner, you can get an additional way to organize your tasks (and life!) if you use the shapes as another category.

Because there are only 3 shapes (and rectangles and squares might seem too similar at a quick glance, so maybe you’d use only two) I recommend making as broader categories for this as possible – the ones that also make sense to you, of course. 

For example, I’d choose work-home or work-home-personal to be my main shape categories (say, work-square, personal-circle), and then in each one I’d use a color that would fit some segment of it.

Tips to use small squares with numbers stickers

You can use the numbers stickers in several ways. The most obvious one is to set the order for your tasks – what you will do first, second, third, and so forth in a day. Alternatively, you can define an order for the steps you need to take that are a part of your bigger project, which span over a number of days – or even weeks (for example, when organizing specific parts and action items of your goal). You can use the same ranking approach to organize your tasks from the brain dump or ideas page (if you use this way to figure out your tasks and actions), or when determining your priorities for the day ahead – for example, when using the productivity matrix.

Don’t think I forgot the color part! 😉 Use the same color for tasks or items that belong to the same group the way you defined it when assigning a color to it. For example, blue for work, or orange for home. (you can take a look at different ways how you can make color categories in the first part of color coding guide)

However, I do not recommend this approach if you want to rank both by order and by color the tasks that don’t belong to the same category. 

For example, if in a day you want to first work on a part of your project, then go to the store, pick up the kids, and then have a business meeting (I know, a crazy example, but just roll with it!), you’d have 4 tasks where minimum 2 of them belong to different categories (2 for work and 2 for home). If you’d like to keep a separate color for every category (which are work and home here) while maintaining the order as they all would perform in a day, this example would look like: 1-blue, 2-orange, 3-orange, 4-blue (if blue would be the color for work, and orange for home). 

As you can see, since all the time you need to focus both on the order of all the tasks and their specific color category, this system could easily become complicated – especially if you like to plan in detail. And the point of any planning is to be better organized and more efficient, without spending unnecessary time on planning itself.

Another way of using these number stickers is to place them as dates of the days in your bullet journal or undated planner, especially if you decided to color code the months of the year. 😉 There are exactly 12 colors so each month can get its unique one, and if you’re a bullet journal fan, you can do a monthly theme having that color in mind (or the other way around, however you choose!).

Color coding icon stickers

Tips to use circle icons

These color coding stickers might very well be the ones I liked to use the most because they add a bit of fun to planner or bullet journal and effectively visually communicate their message.

I usually use them to mark what’s important for a certain day or to make an emphasis on an activity that it’s not performing very often (for example, paying the bills, taking a trip, getting my cats vaccinated).

All I have to do is to place a color coding icon next to the task that belongs to it and that’s it. That way, when looking in a planner, the sticker clearly draws my attention and helps me remember – and focus on – the “special” thing I have in the day.

Now, color coding icons can work well with any page in your planner, but I think they’re best for monthly and yearly spreads of a bullet journal. Why do I think so? Well, since they are so visually attractive, and at the same time simple, when used on these planner pages they help you quickly get a “bird’s eye view” of the key tasks or events over a longer period of time.

They can also work pretty well for weekly pages, but I wouldn’t use more than 2 or 3 of them for a single day. The point is to make the task eye-popping and hence easier to be reminded of. Therefore, if you put too many stickers in a (relatively) small space, you’ll have all these stickers competing for your attention, and you might not be able to quickly process what’s your key task due to “the stickers overload”.

As you can see, there are so many ways you can use these color coding stickers in your planner or bullet journal – and these tips and ideas are certainly not final. I hope you liked the ideas given here and you’ll apply some of them when planning out your days.

Now, it does take some time to test and try out a system that works for you the best, but once you get the hang of it, it will make your planning routine more effective, easier, and quicker when reviewing the tasks ahead (or summarizing achieved).

(I also have a post on how to use your planner to be super-productive, so go take a look if you’re interested in it 😉 )

Follow me on Pinterest for more bullet journal and planner ideas & inspiration – I hope we’ll be friends there, too! 🙂

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